Brian died June 8, 2006, in his bed at home as he wished. The Robins, Oakleys, Katrin Ogilvy, Amanda Healey (the careworker who lives with us), and I did what felt like
several funerals yesterday at Brian’s bedside in our home. It felt so right. We cried and laughed together, sang, prayed and read poetry. The priest Charles, who is from Malta and has a bit of the Irish whimsy came for a while as well. Peace,
~~ Jeanette Stanfield
Brian worked with ICA in Australia, India, USA as well as being the researcher and writer for ICA Canada for 15 years. He is the author of Courage to Lead, Art of Focused Conversation and The Workshop Book. ICA Canada has established a Brian Stanfield memorial fund to support the ongoing research and publications that he so effectively launched.
Joe and I experienced deep refreshment and gratitude this past weekend as we joined with colleagues in Canada to participate in a second celebration of the completed life of R. Brian Stanfield, who has been a beloved spirit presence to our family for almost four decades. Brian and Jeanette, Ben Crocker’s godparents, cared for, guided and informed his journey since 1970 when we all were in the Sydney House.
Duncan Holmes led a powerful liturgy that included movement songs; prayers; statements about Brian’s four great lifetimes (cf Tagore), modelled after the fine celebration that took place in Australia; and witnesses from Brian’s longtime colleagues as well as very recent acquaintances, some of whom had only come to know him through his writing. Jeanette’s presence for this event and her witness as caregiver to Brian during his last year of life was particularly special.
We were struck by the ever-widening circle of people who have been nurtured/equipped/transformed by Brian’s book, The Courage to Be and its leadership training extentions offered by ICA: Canada.
Following the service Stan and Miriam Gibson hosted an evening of reconnecting — light and serious conversation, hilarious reminiscing and profound reflection. All of this was enhanced by the Gibsons’ delightfully gracious presence, lovely home and family, and matchless Indian cuisine — food those of us who live in the woods of Maine would die for!
We were encouraged as we learned about ICA:Canada’s model of sustainability and program outreach — a win/win construct that we hope will inform the ICA USA Board as it repositions its leadership direction.
Especially Joe and I remembered and remembered — in ongoing conversations with Jeanette and Heidi Holmes, who hosted us with great love over the weekend. Top of mind were those beloved ones in Australia — Brian and Rhonda Robins; Barry and Margaret Oakley; Jim and Isobel Bishop; Garnet and Lis Banks; Robyn and John Hutchinson; Jonathan and Jeanine Barker; David and Susan White; Ann and Rob Duffy; Katrin and Ian Ogilvy; Ray and Elaine Richmond; Rebecca, Kathryn and Peter Bishop and so many others from our time in the Sydney House.
And because so many of us gathered in that place had been assigned to India we remembered even more extensively: Aisha, Madan, Jim & Judy, Bimrao, Manu, Miriam (as a teenager!), Vinod & Kamela, Cyprian & Mary, Ellen, Sandra & Keith, Chokibaba, Singh, Brian & Helen, Sumanbai, Hausabai, Dondiram & Shankar………….
Joe and I drove back to Maine “levitating” — feeling deeply gifted, profoundly moved, and called again to serve.
Thank you, Jeanette, Heidi, Duncan and ICA Canada! Grace, peace and love,
~~ Marilyn and Joe Crocker
If I were to try and list every great memory of Brian that I have, it would take a year to send this email.. Here are the top four:
Absolutely one of the finest pedagogues I ever had the pleasure of knowing and working with.
A wonderfully creative cook when we shared kitchen duties at the Sydney house.
Superb at injecting humor and life into any situation, especially those that were really stressful and needed that otherness.
Absolutely the best performer of “Zorba’s Dance” on the big refectory table in the collegium room at #1 Regent Street, Paddington.
I watched Zorba the Greek again last night on TCM and thought of Brian often during the movie. The synchronicity of this scares me.bAll blessings on Brian and Jeanette.
~~ Steve Rhea, Houston, Texas
Judy and I remember Brian as such a great man. His love for the Order, the Church and the Movement where obvious and sustaining to us all. I remember him so fondly during his assignment to India. Upon his and your shoulders we all stood taller. And finally, we want to recognize one of the great love affairs of our community. You two were a couple that represented the best of our call for missional marriages. You were always a sign of what two people in love could be. Please sing extra loud at the celebration so that we may all hear you!! Love, Grace and Peace,
~~ Jack and Judy Gilles
A great spirit has passed into the pureland. I celebrate his continuation into the world of spirit which is right here right now. I can still feel and access Brian through all he left us. His unique style and personality always addressed me in various work situations in Chicago and on occasion when I saw him in Toronto. In that small frame housed a giant of a spirit who cared and is caring for the spirit movement even now. His tenacity and clear thinking is instilled in me. To dig deeply into all matters of substance is a teaching technique I use often. So Jeanette I deeply grieve your physical loss of Brian and yet you will experience him in many ways in the days to come. He is available to you and an all of us. Light, love and peace,
Dear Jeanette and All, We join with you in gratitude for the life Brian lived among us. His presence was a blessing in so many ways. Though we only knew of a few of them, they were none the less awesome. We all will feel the loss.
Our own contact with Brian was primarily in the Academy of 1976 while we were still working in the local church in Omaha. He had a manner which engaged our minds in lectures and seminars, and our hearts with his gentle humour and unself-conscious actions, like standing on the tables in the lecture room to put up his chart or running around wildly on a scooter during a celebration.
What most stays with us in recent years was how he combined his intellectual ability with his care for his colleagues, relating to new people and movements and the mission. We did not directly experience his activities in Research, but were aware that he played a major role in many new ventures, such as the Planetary Connection, Edges, etc. One long lasting effort he made was acting to bring together as much as possible of our collective wisdom on methods and significant engagement into three books. These were not just useful to many new people we reach through our diversified work worldwide, but also challenging and expanding our own understanding and practice of the depth of the methods and living in the face of all existence and our own real lives.
For us the books were part of a greater concern, that we as a body around the world recognise and live out our being one body in many places. It has not been all that easy to do, especially in recent years and his presence was always a reminder that there was something deeper going on among us, which was only visible here and there. He was a searching soul, listening, watching, reading, noticing the presence of the Other World here and now. We wish there would have been occasions when we could have dialogued with him about what he discerned. But now he has left us to discern for ourselves and with one another.
His return to Australia seemed to represent a return to his roots and the mystery of this land. We enjoyed some significant conversations at the Lake Mungo event, Mulgoa, Kings Cross, etc. We were glad that he had the chance to reconnect here, even if the time was all too short. The many visits from old friends and colleagues in the past year were precious moments for both him and for them.
We join with all of you in grief over his all too early departure from this life. It is hard to imagine life without Brian, in many ways. But we know as well that the gifts he gave will remain with us and help to light our way and call others to pass on his legacy and develop their own.
~~ Richard and Maria Maguire
Dear Jeannette and Colleagues on the Dialogue journey, I hit 70 June 1st, and a lot of gratitude has been welling up for the colleagues who challenged me, positively OR negatively, to grow. Only once was Brian in a position to challenge me, but what a difference it made. His calling forth and affirmation of skills no one else had seen in me changed my self-perception as an ICA colleague in the late 70s, just as my friendship with Harold Williams broadened my vision and critical sense in so many ways during that same year.
I interned twice at the ICA in Chicago while I was still a Sister of the Presentation of Mary: a year from one Research Assembly to the other in 1973-4; and a year and a half in 1977-78 as I tested my decision to leave the convent. Although my Provincial Superiors considered me a free-thinker and self-directed nun, I was a naive 37-year-old when I started my first internship in Chicago. Guess who identified with Miss Miller at her RS-I in 1969? Right, Justin?
By the time 1977 rolled around, I was a different animal. One of my first assignments was to be on the Academy team that Brian was leading. Although it was obvious to me that I was not on the lecture list or any other list of any importance, I decided to take it in stride and learn from the wonderful opportunity I was offered. However, when the time came for the Xavier lecture, Brian tapped this RC nun for what seemed to me pretty obvious reasons. Besides, I had gotten my M.Ed. at Boston College, that venerable Jesuit institution!
I spent hours preparing that lecture, adding to what the O:E already knew about Francis Xavier and incorporating what I had learned about being missional as I had lived it for 23 years, as well as what I had observed methodology-wise in colleagues’ lectures over the years. I did a dry run of my 4 x 4 x4 with Harold.
It was a disaster: it was artificial and I was nervous–something I had never been in a public forum. He reassured me that the 4 x 4 x 4 was on target, that dry runs were indeed artificial, and not to worry about it. I would do fine. Well, I did. So much so that Brian told me that it was the best lecture of the Academy. I have my doubts about that. But it did bolster my self-confidence as a capable colleague and allow me to strongly and successfully lock horns later that year with a colleague who tried to keep me in the shadows in Milwaukee at the first Religious Orders Consult we did, although I was the only nun on the team She was amazed that I did well! I no longer was.
I am not surprised that Brian faced the end of his life with peace and openness. I am deeply grateful that he had Jeannette and wonderful colleagues to share his journey toward that moment. I am grateful to have shared a very small part of his own earthly journey that touched mine when I still needed the affirmation of someone “in authority.” He was a giant among us.